The Future is Female
‘There is no limit to what we, as women can accomplish’ – Michelle Obama
According to the Huffington Post, only 6 per cent of skilled traders in the UK are female, making Nicole a minority in a male dominated industry. We sat down with Nicole, Jarrods first female joiner who has just joined the team, to find out first hand what it’s like being a woman in a male dominated industry…
Did you study your trade straight out of school?
I studied Coaching and PE at Marjon in Plymouth, partly because it felt like they were the most acceptable masculine subjects a woman could study at the time. I really enjoy sports and once I graduated I started studying for a PGCE in Physical Education because that’s what all my friends were doing.
How did you get into carpentry?
I quickly realised teaching wasn’t for me, so inspired by a friend, now a qualified female plumber, I decided to give carpentry a go and found I loved it. I started a full-time carpentry course at Cardiff and Vale and I’ve never looked back. I juggled working part time in at Cardiff University while I was studying for my level 1, as well as volunteering at a small joinery firm in Cardiff. I ended up landing a job at that joinery, whom I was working for before coming joining the Jarrods family.
Were there many women on your course?
I think there were four of us when we started the level 1. Sadly only two of us made it to the level 2. I know my friend from the course, Jen, is still working in the trade now as I bumped into her just the other day at Screwfix!
Why do you think the percentage of female joiners is so low?
I think there is still a fair amount of stigma surrounding it. Maybe there’s not enough encouragement at the school/college stage for girls to consider these types of careers –there certainly wasn’t when I was at school. It is slowly changing now though. You’ll be surprised how many people tell me they’d love to be in my shoes when I tell them what I do. That said, I think a lot of my female friends might struggle to deal with being constantly dusty and dirty. There’s no point trying to maintain pretty, painted fingernails in my job, sadly. It’s more like multiple plasters from all my silly cuts!
How do people react when you tell them what you do?
I love telling people I’m a joiner. I’ve had guys tell me point blank they don’t believe me. It’s hard to tell when I’m out in my heels, so I always say to them, you should see me in my work clothes.
Have you found you’ve been treated differently in the industry, because you’re a woman?
Not really. There were some cases previously, before working for Jarrods, where colleagues have made inappropriate comments but they’ve always been resolved. I wouldn’t have chosen to work in this environment if I couldn’t handle the banter. It goes with the territory.I do find sometimes that men naturally want to protect women or do things for them, but as soon as they see me unloading heavy wood from a truck, they soon realise I’m more than capable.
What do you get up to when you’re not at work?
I’m currently renovating my house top to bottom which is a huge challenge but I’m loving it. I’ve also got an Instagram page I run which I showcase my own little projects on – ArtfulTimbers
Are you enjoying Jarrods?
I love it. The Jarrods family is very close knit and very creative, and I feel like I fit in well here. The team has amazing vision and we have some very exciting projects on the go.
Nicole with Designer Lauren working together on a recent project.